It didn’t take us long to figure out that the good old U.S. Postal Service is the best and cheapest way to ship things to Vieques–as long as they’re not too big or too heavy.
First, we tried UPS and were appalled by their prices.
Then we tried FedEx, which is even more expensive—it charges international rates even though Puerto Rico is part of the U.S.
To make matters worse, Puerto Rico charges an import tax on items sent by both UPS and FedEx.
In the eleven months since we’d bought the house, we had shipped down, via U.S. parcel post, six ceiling fans, several boxes of track lighting, and untold quantities of books, sheets, coverlets, towels, placemats, kitchenware—you name it. And not one thing had ever arrived damaged.
In subsequent years we rose to even greater heights of shipping creativity—when we couldn’t find a barbeque grill we liked on Vieques, we bought one in Virginia, took it apart, mailed the parts to Jane separately, and reassembled the whole thing once it arrived.
I realize this qualifies as a major digression but I have to tell you—Michael installed all six of those ceiling fans. Among my other phobias, I’m deathly afraid of electricity, and each time he stood on the metal kitchen ladder and twisted the little copper wires together on yet another electrical connection I did a mental inventory of my dark-colored clothes to make sure I’d be presentable at his memorial service.
Needless to say, my fears were unfounded—Michael’s father, an engineer, had apparently passed his fix-it gene along to his son. The fans ran like a charm, and once Michael had finished hanging them (and had satisfied himself that they didn’t wobble, wobbling being a pervasive ceiling fan malady), he moved on to the track lighting in the kitchen…
and, eventually, to replacing every electrical outlet in the whole upstairs unit.
His ingenuity not only saved us money but also gave us the sense that we were somewhat in control of a project that was occasionally veering into “out of control” territory.
That, in itself, was worth a fortune.